Women’s Basketball’s “Iron Ram” Winds Down a Record-Breaking Career


Lauren Holden, Fordham's all-time minutes leader, has left everything on the floor in her four years in the Bronx. (Courtesy of Fordham Athletics)

By Jack McLoone

“Lauren is an ‘Iron Ram,’” said Fordham Women’s Basketball head coach Stephanie Gaitley after the Rams’ 58-42 win over Davidson College on Feb. 13. In that game, senior point guard Lauren Holden played 39 minutes, giving her the record for most career minutes played. She is now up to 4,265 minutes for her career after Sunday’s game.

Holden made her decision to commit to Fordham quickly and pretty easily. While at a camp hosted by Gaitley at Fordham the summer after her sophomore year in high school, the Fordham coach pulled Holden aside after one of the days and offered her a scholarship on the spot.

“I remember driving back home with my dad, and my dad and I were just talking about it, and we’re like, ‘This is a perfect fit,’” said Holden during an interview with The Fordham Ram. “So I literally called on the way home and committed right away.”

Playing in Holden’s favor was one of her high school teachers, who also happened to be Gaitley’s sister.

“My sister doesn’t know much about basketball but she said Lauren was an awesome person and for me that’s where it all starts. She also said she had a terrific work ethic both on and off the court,” said Gaitley. “So when she came to camp that summer of her sophomore year I loved her defense, but more importantly I really liked her as a person.”

Holden’s work ethic got put to the test almost immediately in her freshman year. Senior Khadijah Gibson was expected to be the team’s starting point guard but suffered an injury before the season that ultimately ended her season. For the beginning portion of the season, Aaliyah Jones and Asnate Fomina split starts at point guard, though Holden still picked up double-digit minutes in most of the games, sometimes more than the starter.

After playing 32 minutes and leading the team in scoring with 14 points off the bench against Duquesne on Jan. 10, 2016, Holden made her first career start in her next game on Jan. 13. She scored just five points but impressed Gaitley enough to start every game over the rest of the season, often playing almost every minute.

“There was a lack of chemistry both on and off the court, and at the end of the day I had to make some tough decisions to get rid of a few players,” said Gaitley of Holden’s freshman year. “During that time there was really no one who stood out. I tried a bunch of different players at her position, but it wasn’t until the second semester that Lauren turned the corner.”

“I was kind of just like thrown into the fire but, you know, you learn stuff,” said Holden. “I guess you just like pick up on stuff like as you go along.”

She credits assistant coach Val Nainima with helping her adjust to the college game and rigors of being an NCAA point guard.

“I just remember like she kind of took me in like under her wing when I was a freshman, and when I was thrown into that role she was one who really would sit me down and help me with that,” said Holden.

Those 16 straight starts to close the 2015-16 season rolled into a total that, as of Sunday, is at 111 straight. She has started — and played the majority of — every game that she was able to (she missed one game due to illness her sophomore year) since that Jan. 13 game in 2016.

Holden felt much more confident as the team’s starting point guard, and it showed in her stats. Her points per game went up from 6.3 to 8.5, and she committed 14 fewer turnovers despite playing more than 300 more minutes.

Holden doesn’t think she does much different when it comes to training; she is just capable of playing every minute and has been doing it since high school. She doesn’t even do anything particularly special to recover, sticking with foam rollers and ice baths as her primary recovery tools.

Any hesitance she had her freshman year has been wiped away completely, as Holden has stepped up not just her play, but in her natural role as a leader as the starting point guard. She has been a captain for the last two seasons for the Rams and helped foster a tight-knit team dynamic that she sees as key to the Rams’ recent success.

“I think a lot has to do with the team chemistry, and I think that all of us care about each other on and off the court, and I think that really helps,” said Holden. “You just want to win such a family-oriented program.”

“Lauren demands great respect from both her teammates and coaches because she is consistently the hardest working player in the gym,” said Gaitley. “She had been a captain the past two years and has gained great confidence in demanding of others because she demands of herself first. She always puts the ‘We’ before the ‘Me.’”

Holden’s senior year got off to a rough start, as she was posting some of her worst numbers since her freshman year in terms of shooting. She’s bounced back a bit lately, however, something Gaitley sees as indicative of the kind of player — and person — Holden is.

“I think a moment that stands out for me is this year when Lauren was struggling with her game early on. We sat and talked about it, and she took the constructive instruction and ran with it. She had to use what made her successful all along — her work ethic,” said Gaitley. “I told her, ‘you wouldn’t go into a final without studying so you can’t go into a game without getting a lot of reps.’ Once she put the time in the results came.”

That just about sums up Holden’s career as a Ram: she has maybe the most profound work ethic on the team, which can be translated statistically into all those minutes on the court.

“I would just want to be remembered as someone who cared about others and was a good person and worked as hard as I could and everything I did.”